News: Protocol workshop enlightens service members as well as civilians
Story by Airman 1st Class Kelsey Waters
RAF MILDENHALL, England --The 100th Air Refueling Wing protocol office recently held a week long workshop Sept. 17-20, 2012 at Middleton Hall on RAF Mildenhall.
The purpose of the training was to standardize protocol on bases, said Maggie Bonner, Protocol School at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., protocol special events lead instructor.
“Protocol is important because it standardizes the way we as military members and Department of Defense civilians react in everyday situations,” said Bonner.
The training discussed everything from how to properly seat people at a conference, to what the proper order is to hang state flags.
“Protocol is a life science because it evokes design skills, sensitivity and shows you how to look at two sides of the same coin. Even though something may seem harmless to us, it may be extremely disrespectful to a dignitary of a different nation,” said Bonner. “This training is something that everyone can use.”
The protocol workshop brought to light a lot of the small details that go into controlling an event, such as which flowers to give the incoming and outgoing commanders’ wives during a change of command ceremony.
There were a host of different people at the training from multiple bases, including commanders’ wives, secretaries and protocol members from other bases. Even the RAF Mildenhall Honor Guard came to attend the class on flag protocol.
“The more people trained in protocol, the more informed Team Mildenhall will be when it comes to protocol procedures,” said Darrell Collins, 100 ARW Protocol chief.
The training looked and ran like an etiquette class. After each briefing the students would break into groups and go through exercises on what they had just learned. While most of the exercises were on paper, it was easy to see why a standardization of protocol was needed. The students sat and discussed their experiences in different situations.
Bonner said when the students leave this class; they are expected to know how to set up a ceremony and know with whom to get in contact to make sure whatever event they are organizing runs smoothly.
“I think there is a real difference between talking to you about something and actually showing them the sequence of events in a ceremony and having them plan out a mock ceremony for themselves,” she said.
The workshop taught students how to have back-up plans when planning events, and showed how hosting events not only affects people who attend the event, but also the people who work the events.
“I want people to understand that protocol is a part of everything we do. I want them to understand that protocol is part of everyday life,” said Bonner.